Kordell Stewart, the most famous football player in John Ehret history, carried the Class 5A runner-up trophy from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome field to the locker room late Saturday night.
It wasn’t the one he or anyone else in Marrero wanted him to be carrying.
But as coach Corey Lambert said afterward, “It was just one of those nights.”
Indeed it was.
The surprise wasn’t so much that the Patriots, a No. 9 seed, lost. It was more how they lost.
What was supposed to be a slow work night for the Superdome scoreboard operator turned into a much busier one than expected as No. 2 Zachary lit up Ehret’s defense for a 46-12 win.
The “Red Brick Wall,” Ehret’s defense that had dominated all season to get the Patriots to their first state championship game in 30 years, finally crumbled.
“They made plays when they were supposed to make plays, and we fell short,” said senior linebacker Michael Divinity, the cornerstone of that defense.
It was Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr., Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, who did the most damage. When he wasn’t running through the wall, he was throwing over it, torching the Patriots for five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).
His coach wasn’t surprised.
“He is the best quarterback I’ve ever been around in the 18 years I’ve been coaching,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “He is a fierce competitor. Losing is not an option, and he’ll do what he has to do to make sure of that.”
Scott completed 7 of 14 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 108 yards and two more scores.
Ehret led 12-6 midway though the second quarter before Scott and Co. surged for 40 unanswered points.
The 46 points were the most Ehret gave up all season, surpassing the 38 Destrehan scored in Week 3.
It’s hard enough to score seven points against Ehret, let alone seven touchdowns. The Patriots held 10 of their 15 opponents to seven points or less.
“The defense was on the field a little too much, and then the miscues we had put the defense in some situations by not moving the ball to sustain drives,” Lambert said. “It was probably our worst game of the season, but my guys fought until the end, and that’s all I could ask.”
Ehret was outgained 435-332, including 268-123 in the second half, when the game got away from the Patriots.
“I read the same articles and headlines you did about their defense and all the SEC commitments,” Brewerton said. “I’m just glad our offense didn’t read any of that stuff and, if they did, it didn’t bother them. I thought our offense played great. And our defense didn’t get talked about a lot, but I thought they played their butts off.”
De’Jon Harris earned Most Outstanding Player honors for Ehret after completing 10 of 15 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Juwan Leonard rushed 26 times for 135 yards.
But it wasn’t nearly enough.
“I told our guys before the game that whoever handled the situation better was going to win the game,” said Lambert, whose team committed two turnovers. “They handled the stage better than we did.”
Ehret seemed just fine early. After a scoreless first quarter, Ehret scored first when Harris connected with Donte Green for an 18-yard touchdown.
Zachary responded quickly, going 70 yards in just two plays. Scott threw a pass to Shyron White, who eluded two colliding Ehret defenders on his way to a 69-yard touchdown.
Harris helped Ehret regain the lead midway through the quarter, this time lining up at running back and scoring on a 4-yard run.
Leonard, who rushed for 108 of his yards in the first half, fumbled late in the half, and Zachary capitalized on a Scott-to-Coleman pass to take a 13-12 halftime lead. That touchdown was the first time in nine games that a team had scored more than one touchdown against Ehret.
Little did anyone know that the floodgates were about to open.
It brought to a close the careers of a senior class that Lambert has raved about since they were freshmen.
He boasted about this group of seniors, despite their 0-9 season three years ago, knowing they had a chance to be special. Turns out, he was right.
They took Ehret to a place it hadn’t been since 1985.
Four of those seniors (Leonard, Divinity, Harris and Kerry Starks) sat next to Lambert at the interview table. Other seniors like Robert Green (who had two more sacks), Caron Baham (the starting quarterback who injured his knee in the season opener) and Jarrius Wallace were in the locker room.
Years from now, they’ll be remembered right along with Ehret greats like Stewart, Reggie Wayne, Drake Nevis and Darrel Williams, all of whom were on the sideline Saturday night.
“These (seniors) have brought the tradition back to this place,” Lambert said. “You look and you see a sea of red, white and blue. These guys have brought so many people back together. So my hat’s off to these guys.”